Unheard Voices: Who Are We Missing? Panel Discussion


For those of you who didn’t attend the event on the 29th, the YouTube video will be at the end of the article. On the 29th of July, Compassionate Atlanta held a conversation on Zoom. They had a mother of 2 disabled kids who owns RISE Coffee and Tea. They had one of her employees on the panel, his name was Tim Neja. And they had me, Jimmy Freels. They also had Greyg Maciel. And Leanne Rubenstein and Kimberly Burley. The Unheard Voices conversation, this article, will be based on that conversation we had as a group. To me, it was interesting to hear some of the different views and perspectives pertaining to the unheard voices concept. Now, RISE Coffee Shop is a coffee shop that employs people with disabilities. The owner of RISE was one of the panelists and she said the reason why she started RISE is she had nowhere for her daughter to go. One of her staff members was on the panel as well. He said something really interesting, he said since he’s been on the staff at RISE, he’s felt included and that he can trust people to have his best interests in mind. This doesn’t have to be the only conversation that Compassionate Atlanta needs to have with their supporters. The very first question that the moderator asked was about inclusive spaces. The moderator was named Kimberly and the very first question was to Nicole, the owner of RISE. She has four kids in total and two of them have disabilities. Her answer to that first question was very profound because she started RISE because she wanted her daughter to have somewhere to belong. She wanted to give disabled people in her community some employment opportunities. That’s very compassionate because I would do the same. The other panelists did a great job as well. I did very well also.

The other panelists besides me, gave some great, heartfelt answers. I appreciate they allowed me to speak. Even though it took me a little bit longer to speak, they gave me what is known as wait time so I could get my two cents in. The other panelists did a good job as well. I would like to see more of these because it’s very important to see what disabled people are thinking and feeling. I think there needs to be several more conversations either in person after the Covid or during Covid. Another thing that Kimberly said that stuck out to me is that you have to own your truth. Since I started working for Compassionate Atlanta, that’s been an inclusive space for me. When I first did my internship, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but I’ve become more aware of people’s wants and desires. And since I started working for Compassionate Atlanta, they’ve been extremely nice to me and they’ve been very accommodating to me.

Compassionate Atlanta gave me a shot to become a professional writer. In the beginning, I had never heard of them until I went to one of their events. It was after that event, that Amy Price sent me an email with a link to their website. I really appreciate them taking me on because during this pandemic, I would not have a job right now. It would be really difficult for me to get work.

In conclusion, we should all live more compassionately and people can ask us questions about these issues if people have concerns about what we might be thinking and feeling. I hope that people start to realize disabled people are like everyday Americans trying to put their two cents into the overall conversation as far as inclusion and acceptance. In conclusion, I want people to think about how they receive disabled people in general, because we’re all human beings and we should all live more compassionately, especially now that we’re all separated by Covid-19.

LINK TO THE PANEL DISCUSSION: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLBxe3e0C14&t=58s

Jimmy Freels


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